I was feeling particularly low yesterday over the direction our country is taking, so I decided to clear my mind by firing up the Oklahoma Joe.
I started by using a chimney of Weber lumpwood to create a base fire. However, either through poor transport or manufacture, the pieces in the bag were a bit too fine. Which brings me nicely to a warning: Be wary of using small pieces of lumpwood, or lighting too much charcoal in your fire box.
These pieces lit and instantly fell through the grate, resting on the bottom of the fire box, producing intense heat, and stripping the paint from the outside of the box. Making this rookie error did nothing to improve my mood. I've ordered some paint to fix this, and am now considering whether I should install a new grate to keep any lit coals away from the bottom.
Anyway, I cleared out the scorching coals and started again (using largely wood chunks this time). In terms of temperature management, I went with the following rules:
- For simplicity sake, aim for a temperature range - between 200-250°F.
- Leave the chimney vent fully open.
- Adjust airflow using the firebox vent (most of the time, I kept this just under half open).
- Be sparing with fuel, but ensure there is always enough to produce an active flame.
I'll be refining these over time, but found them a good starting point. This wasn't a fire and forget cook, I was constantly monitoring vents, fire, and temperature for the 8 hours I had it lit.
Fuel consumption wise, I went through about 4KG of small chunks. I'll definitely be looking for a decent local supplier of larger cuts.
During the smoke itself I cooked a selection of supermarket meats: A 2KG pork shoulder, a 2.5KG brisket, and six chicken thighs. All came out really well, especially the brisket, which was tender and moist.
At the end of the cook, I simply let the fire die down a bit, and used the cooking chamber as a handy place to keep food warm. Lovely.
So I'm pretty impressed with the Joe so far (which we've named Winnie). Can't wait for the next cook.
Missed my previous post on the Oklahoma Joe? You can read it here.